Children call it a “do over.” Golfers call it a “mulligan.” Television and film directors call it a “retake.” By whatever name, it is the realization that something didn’t go as we planned and we need a reset. We failed and we now have the opportunity to do it again. And, we want to do it as if we’re doing it for the very first time!
There is a lot of beginning again, again in life. New years, new weeks, new seasons and new mercies each new day—all opportunities to begin again, again. Night falls and morning rises and we begin again, again. Winter yields to spring and we begin again, again. A child is born and we begin again, again. A loved one dies, and we begin again, again. Sunday comes and we begin again, again.
And from turning the page on the calendar to closing the books, this is a time of beginning again, again. We may look back over the last twelve months and feel disappointment or shame— opportunities missed, resolutions faltered, just plain failures and frustrations. But aren’t we grateful for the opportunity, each January, to start fresh?
There is something in us that craves a reset— a break from what has been and the chance to begin again, again. We were made for recreation, and long for something to help us shed the regrets of our past.
In Christ, God offers us the opportunity to begin again, again. The offer of a clean slate, a fresh start, forgiveness, renewal— complete recreation. Once and for all, and every time we ask. Second Corinthians 5:17 says being in Christ is being a whole new Christ is becoming a whole new creation where, “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
In the spiritual realm, death precedes life. God promises a new heaven and new earth, but only after the first heaven and the first earth pass away and the sea is no more. God offers us salvation in Jesus Christ, but only after the King of kings and Lord of lords died on a cross to atone for our sins.
It is no surprise then, we find to be made new in Christ, we must be willing to break with the old; we must be willing to die to ourselves in order to live in Christ. God extends to us the opportunity to begin again, again with a clean heart and fresh slate every moment. When we confess our sins and ask Him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, He promises to do it (1 John 1:9).
What does this look like? Repentance. A repentant heart cries out with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10). Repentance admits, not only have we done wrong, but our very nature is corrupted. The restart we need is more than better resolutions or disciplines— we need a whole new heart.
Breaking with the past in this way is difficult. Acknowledging that we don’t know it all, admitting that we’ve made mistakes, agreeing with the evidence that our lives are off track and our thoughts are off base, confessing our sins of thought, word, and deed, commission and omission, is hard to do.
But if I want to begin again, again, then I have to put to death the old ways. What I receive in exchange is so much better. Through Christ, we have life— true life! Romans 8 promises us:
“But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:10-11)
God’s very Spirit dwells in us, giving us a newness of life that no New Year’s Day could ever offer. This is good news, indeed.
Because here is the truth about those old ways— they are just holdovers of deadness. Continuing in them is like holding on to a closet of old clothes that are ill-fitting, moth-eaten and dirty. Throw off those old ways and change them out for the new clothes of Christ! (See Colossians 3).
Let’s face it, God knows more than we do. God knows more about our families, more about our work, more about our love lives, more about our kids, more about our community, about our church and certainly more about our world than we could ever hope to know.
His ways and His thoughts, His perspective and His plan are vastly more perfect than anything mere mortals could conceive. What might happen if we put this year in God’s very able hands? What might happen if we yield to His perfect plan, accept the boundaries of His perfect provision, and walk by faith into His redemptive plan?
One thing is certain, next year this time we’ll need to begin again, again in some area or aspect of our lives. We’re imperfect people and this side of heaven we’re going to live in the continual cycle of newness by God’s grace, rebellion in sin, confession and repentance, forgiveness by grace through faith in Christ and newness again by God’s mercy.
I invite you today to begin again, again. I invite you personally to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Confess your sins and allow God to wipe the slate of your life clean. No matter how far along you are in the Christian adventure, or if you’re just beginning again for the first time today, invite God to create in you a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you. I entreat you, on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. Begin again with Him.